Author Topic: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux  (Read 7078 times)

cdttmm

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Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« on: August 21, 2015, 06:53:56 PM »
Computer geeks and gurus, I have an older netbook and an older laptop that I want to put back into use if possible. They both have Windows XP installed on them, which I would like to remove so that I can install Linux.

I've done some internet searches about how to do this, but there is a lot of information out there. I'm not super tech savvy, but I think this is something I can successfully do given the right tools. Plus, neither machine is critical so if things go really sideways I won't be screwed. I'm mostly doing this for the learning experience.

So here are my questions:

1) Can you point me to what you would consider the best tutorial on how to remove Windows XP and the best tutorial on how to install Linux?

2) How long (in hours -- or days!) would you expect this project to take?

3) Which distro of Linux would you recommend?

4) In your opinion, is this project a worthwhile learning opportunity?

Thanks in advance!

Rural

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2015, 08:49:31 PM »
Posting to follow as in considering same with a 2011 laptop running Windows 7.

wienerdog

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2015, 09:20:05 PM »
I have been really happy with Linux Mint. http://www.linuxmint.com/index.php

You can follow this:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Install-any-linux-from-a-usb-the-easy-way/

You will basically download linux Mint.  On the netbook I would run the Xfce version as it has a lightweight desktop.  It will be easier on a netbook or an older computer.  I actually kinda like Xfce but I have another computer with the Cinnamon desktop that is the standard desktop.

The program they have you download will write the linux mint download to the usb drive where you can boot from it.  You should be able try Mint out running from USB.  If you decide to install follow the desktop install procedure and have it wipe or write over anything on the computer. Count on an hour or two.  Hardest thing might be setting up the bios so you can boot from the USB stick if you have never messed in the bios before and it isn't really that hard.

The only reason I keep an XP computer around is just to run H&R Block tax software once a year.

the_fella

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2015, 09:52:21 PM »
Do you have any pictures, documents, or other files you want to still be able to access after you install Linux? If not, you can just download an ISO image of a Linux distro and burn it to a DVD (most are too big to fit on a CD). Once it's burned, you turn your computer off, then back on and open the boot menu. Different computers do this different ways. If it's a Dell, you'll press F12 as the BIOS loads. Google how to open the boot menu for your computer. Anyway, you then select the DVD drive (you'll do this using the arrow keys on your keyboard; the mouse won't work in this mode). Then press enter. The Linux operating system will now load. This will likely take a few minutes. Once it's loaded, you can see how well it works with your hardware. There should be an icon on the desktop that you can click to install the operating system. You select the partition where Windows XP is installed. Tell the installer to reformat the partition (this will erase it). Everything should proceed now. This will take a few minutes. Once it's done, you'll still be in the "live" environment of the DVD, so you'll have to reboot. Make sure you eject the DVD. Then you'll boot into the newly installed OS.

I like Linux Mint (linuxmint.comt). (in fact, I'm typing this from a computer running Linux Mint). I use it on both of my computers. If you don't like the default "theme" (I don't), you can change it. I installed a much "darker" theme.

FIRE me

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2015, 12:59:32 AM »
In addition to the good advice given by weinerdog and the_fella, before you download Mint (a great choice), you should try to decide what desktop you want to run. Mint, like almost every distro, comes with different desktop environments. They are quite different.

I am very partial to KDE. KDE is the king of configurability. I also find it very functional and attractive. But that is purely my opinion, and yours may very well differ.

Other desktop environments to consider are Gnome, Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. You might want to check each of them on Wikipedia for an overview and general design philosophy.

http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php

msangi

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2015, 02:37:21 AM »
In addition to the good advice given by weinerdog and the_fella, before you download Mint (a great choice), you should try to decide what desktop you want to run. Mint, like almost every distro, comes with different desktop environments. They are quite different.

I am very partial to KDE. KDE is the king of configurability. I also find it very functional and attractive. But that is purely my opinion, and yours may very well differ.

Other desktop environments to consider are Gnome, Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce. You might want to check each of them on Wikipedia for an overview and general design philosophy.

http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
While choosing what desktop environment to use on an old computer a very important factor is how lightweight it is. I would take this factor more into account than other aspects of the design philosophy

cdttmm

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2015, 06:38:16 AM »
Wow! Thank you for the awesome responses everyone -- greatly appreciated!!!

Okay, here are the factory specs for the netbook that I have:

Intel Atom N280(1.66GHz)
1GB Memory 160GB HDD

LinuxMint still the best option? I'm guessing the answer is yes, but thought I would ask.

No DVD drive so I'm going to have to go with the USB stick option.

Figured out how to get to the boot menu. I'm assuming once I actually have a USB stick in the port I'll be able to see the option to select it.

wienerdog

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2015, 07:13:29 AM »
Intel Atom N280(1.66GHz)
1GB Memory 160GB HDD

Figured out how to get to the boot menu. I'm assuming once I actually have a USB stick in the port I'll be able to see the option to select it.

I would use Mint Xfce.  I have it on a 4 year old Atom Netbook and it works fine. I bought the machine at a Thanksgiving night sale with Windows 7 home.  Never booted windows went straight to Mint.  It will have some lag here and there pulling up a new program but nothing like a windows machine with low RAM where the GUI is 30 seconds behind what you are doing. 

When you first boot from USB the computer will actually be running Mint from the USB so you can test drive it for a bit before you go ahead and install.  If you want try one of the more loaded desktops and see how it does.  It just costs you some time and another download but from previous experience Xfce will give you a better experience on the Netbook.

On your boot menu in the bios you are selecting the order the computer will try to boot from.  If you want put the USB drive in front of the hard drive and forget about it.  Just remember if you ever boot the computer and have a USB drive in there it will try to boot from it and give you an error if it is not bootable.  After you install Mint you can go back and put the menu back to hard drive first them it will always boot the hard drive first and only go on to the next items if the hard drive is non bootable.  It is possible to tell Linux Mint to keep windows when you install so that at boot time you can choose what OS you want to boot to.  I did that long ago on another netbook and found I stopped booting windows XP so really I just wasted hard drive space by keeping windows there as it has to split the hard drive and make it like it is two different drive.

You will like Mint.  Once you get use to using it which won't take much you will wonder why you didn't do it earlier.  It isn't that hard.  Like I said earlier I still keep one old XP desktop machine around just so I can install tax software once a year.  I bet I could find a way to run it under Linux (Wine might work) I have just been too lazy to look at solutions.

cdttmm

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2015, 08:07:17 AM »
wienerdog, thank you! You have been super helpful and given me the confidence that I can (1) actually do this and (2) will not regret it!

I'll report back when I'm finished.

FIRE me

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2015, 11:04:52 PM »
While choosing what desktop environment to use on an old computer a very important factor is how lightweight it is. I would take this factor more into account than other aspects of the design philosophy

You, and many others, might. But I wouldn't. I'd much rather run a preferred environment, and wait a whole second longer for programs to open, rather than have a snappy computer that lacks the environment and programs that I like.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2015, 11:06:32 PM by FIRE me »

bord

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2015, 08:17:44 AM »
While you're at it you might consider replacing your aging hard drive with an SSD. You wouldn't believe the life an SSD can breathe into an old laptop. It is a fairly easy procedure and can really speed up a clunky machine.

RWD

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2015, 08:58:42 AM »
Okay, here are the factory specs for the netbook that I have:

Intel Atom N280(1.66GHz)
1GB Memory 160GB HDD

LinuxMint still the best option? I'm guessing the answer is yes, but thought I would ask.

Mint is typically a solid choice, but I found Mint (with Cinnamon, if I recall correctly) to be very slow on an old computer I tried it on earlier this year. Fedora + LXDE ended up being much faster. If it seems fast enough to you then I'd stick with Mint, but don't be afraid to try a few other options if it isn't meeting your expectations. Xubuntu or Lubuntu might be decent alternatives as well.

I personally use Arch Linux with Xfce for most my computers. I wouldn't recommend Arch to a beginner though.

jj20051

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2015, 09:09:44 AM »
If you use your laptop for primarily browsing the internet, editing documents, etc... I'd recommend installing Chromixium on it. Chromixium is an open source linux distribution which is designed to act like a chromebook. It's based on ubuntu so you still have access to add linux based apps if you need them, but it's built for people who don't want to have to know everything about linux to use it.

Installing it is fairly easy. Download the ISO (here). Then use a program like Free ISO Burner to put it on a DVD or ISO TO USB if you want to use a thumbdrive instead of a DVD. Once you have the media insert it into your computer and restart it. When the computer restarts look for a hotkey labeled "boot order" or something of the like. It's usually F2, del or F8 dependent on your motherboard's manufacturer. When you do a menu should come up asking you where to boot from. Select USB or DVD dependant on which media you chose to use and hit enter. Once the media finishes loading follow the on screen directions to complete the install.

For the most part the directions above will work for any linux based OS.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2015, 02:53:30 PM »
Others have already covered the "how do I install it?" question.

My recommendation would be Lubuntu, as it's designed to be lightweight.  (Ubuntu with LXDE)
How long will it take?  Once you have the USB drive ready, maybe an hour.  XP will get removed (along with all files!) in the process.
Good learning experience? Well, that's up to you! :)

DarinC

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2015, 03:06:16 PM »
I'd go with any of the above and/or anything from this list.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightweight_Linux_distribution

Better yet, if you have a USB stick, DL some livecds and boot into a few to see what you like. Install should be pretty quick. Setting up your system might take a half day or so depending on what you want.

If you want to get more hands on, try installing archlinux. From there you can install any number of lightweight DEs and boot into whichever one you want from something like GDM. The learning curve is kind of steep, but IMO it has the best bang for your buck in terms of system configuration.

wienerdog

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2015, 07:39:54 PM »

I personally use Arch Linux with Xfce for most my computers. I wouldn't recommend Arch to a beginner though.

Arch will drive you to drinking!  lol  It is a good experience though for learning the innards of linux.

dilinger

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2015, 09:34:07 PM »
Wow, that's a lot of Mint love!  I've used Debian for decades, but I usually recommend Mint for people just trying out Linux.  I find that as long as you have 2 gigs of ram, the desktop environment doesn't matter; Gnome runs just as well as Xfce with enough memory.  Where you will find yourself hurting for more memory is with Firefox or Chromium.

patrickza

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2015, 01:27:45 AM »
My recommendation would be Lubuntu, as it's designed to be lightweight.  (Ubuntu with LXDE)
Another plus 1 for Lubuntu. On a netbook it just makes sense. I've used regular ubuntu and mint extensively, but for speed and ease of use on an old machine lubuntu can't be beat.

RWD

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2015, 06:42:43 AM »

I personally use Arch Linux with Xfce for most my computers. I wouldn't recommend Arch to a beginner though.

Arch will drive you to drinking!  lol  It is a good experience though for learning the innards of linux.

My wife can confirm this!

Kaspian

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2015, 10:26:00 AM »
I installed Ubuntu on a few older laptops for people who's Windows version became corrupt and they didn't have a backup.  All you need to install is a flash drive.  It will even let you try the entire OS from the flash drive first without installing--to see if you like it.  People I set this up for got their browser, their Skype, Open Office, and everything else to work without issue.

FLBiker

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2015, 12:18:20 PM »
I did ubuntu on a ~6 year old thinkpad.  It worked well, except for the SVGA driver.  The monitor worked, but I couldn't get video (audio was fine) out to my TV.  That was the primary purpose of that laptop, so I'm back w/ XP.  I might try one of these other distros, though.

Making Cookies

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Re: Netbook & Laptop: Wipe Windows XP and install Linux
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2015, 09:26:33 PM »
I'll also throw my support behind Mint Linux.

I prefer KDE but have Cinnamon on our kid's desktop computer (Minecraft) and XFCE on my older garage computer which mostly plays music for me.

I've installed Mint on 100+ computers over the years. It rarely has trouble but like others have suggested - run it from a USB thumb drive or CD/DVD. It'll be slower than once it is installed but it'll give you a test drive. I keep a thumb drive with Mint Linux on it for repairing Windows machines or as a travel computer (use my extended family's computer and my software).